The Coffee Con- High Quality Beans Are a Rip-Off, Study Shows
- Coffee lovers being conned into paying extra
- Cheaper beans being labelled as high end ones
- One in ten expensive packets actually contains low quality beans
Coffee lovers are being conned by suppliers who fraudulently mix inferior beans into products labelled as 100% Arabica, scientists have found.
The discovery came to light as a result of British researchers trying out a new and more accurate method of testing coffee quality.
As part of the study members of the team bought samples of coffee at shops and supermarkets.
They found that a tenth of high quality products labelled as “1oo% Arabica” contained high levels of inferior and cheaper ‘Robusta’ beans instead.
Arabica coffee sells for twice the price of Robusta because of the superior taste.
Giles Chapman, head of intelligence at the Food Standards Agency's National Food Crime Unit, said: "We're always keen to understand how scientific advances expand the range of tools which can be used to validate the authenticity of food products sold to UK consumers.
"This piece of work has generated some interesting insights which we will be looking to explore further."
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The new method of finding rogue Robusta beans in packs of Arabica beans just takes 30 minutes, whereas the previous method took three days.
One sample was found to have over 20% of Robusta beans in, despite being sold as 100% Arabica, but the institute that did the survey said it was not possible to name the brand.
The findings not only affect consumers who are being deceived, but also undermines efforts to ensure that smallholders in developing countries are paid a fair price for the coffee they grow.
Chris Stemman, executive director of the British Coffee Association, said: "The BCA welcomes the new insights that the Quadrum Institute are able to provide in determining what types of coffee make up specific products on sale.
"This is an important and easily accessible tool that could potentially be applied as an assurance measure along the coffee supply chain, so that authenticity can be checked and validated at all stages from farm to cup.
"Supply chain integrity remains a key priority for the UK coffee industry and we welcome further research that looks into this in further depth. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that these findings have any impact on the vast majority of products that consumers buy and enjoy drinking every day in the UK."